Tag Archives: Culture change

Civility at UC – not to make assumptions

Last week we welcomed to campus visiting academic Professor Michael P Leiter, PhD (U of Oregon) MA (Vanderbilt) BA (Duke), an expert on the psychology of work and Professor of Organisational Psychology at Deakin University.

It was wonderful to see such a great turnout at Michael’s research seminar and the all-staff combined “Weaving the Rope” and “Blue CLUES” sessions. Around 300 people heard him speak at these events.

Michael talked about the importance of workplaces as a community and how belonging is vital. Michael uses the 4A’s a as a model to define civility.

  1. Acknowledge – which can be as simple as saying good morning to each other.
  2. Accept – inviting people to join in.
  3. Appreciate – giving thanks.
  4. Accommodate – inconveniencing yourself a bit to help someone else fit in with the flow of what’s going on.

Michael showed us the importance of intention and intensity of social interaction. Often we don’t know what message was intended, therefore we make assumptions (rightly or wrongly) about the intentions of others.

Michael talked about how his research shows that people tend to see themselves as being more civil than others perceive and that on average people experience a ratio of 5:1 civil to uncivil interactions when at work – which shows there’s a lot of room for improvement. For those who have their own LSI1&2, take a look and see what your results tell you in relation to this.

So what can staff do??

Michael suggested staff recruit a friend or workgroup to start modelling civility with.

What can leaders do??

Michael talked about leaders playing a large role in setting an example and promoting civility and respect and suggested putting civility on the agenda and adopting a sound Problem Solving framework as a good starting point. Check out the Problem Solving methodology UC has adopted.

Link to Organisational Culture

I see strong alignment between what Michael shared with us and the work we are doing to move UC towards our desired culture. For example, our culture survey measures now we feel about:

Respect for Members “The extent to which people are treated in a fair and just manner both in general and with respect to developmental opportunities”.

Empowerment “The extent to which people are given the authority, resources, experience and opportunity to perform their tasks autonomously”.

Use of Rewards, Use of Punishments, Significance, Interdependence – the list goes on….

If we can move these levers for change in a positive way, we can begin operating in a more constructive way which leads to greater Role Clarity, Motivation, Satisfaction and less Stress, which in turn lifts the performance of the individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Team Management Profile (TMP) is another tool we use to enhance team dynamics.

You’ll find Michael’s video and presentation under the Blue CLUES Intranet page and the Weaving the Rope Intranet page

If you would like assistance on how to kick-start a conversation about civility and respect within your team then get in touch with your Manager or HR Advisor. The 4 A’s is a great place to start!

Ngā mihi

Rachel Dillon

OD Advisor

Mindful or mindless? How to stay sane in a distracting world. Workshop 24 Nov


Mindfulness training is about your life. It isn’t about the time you meditate on a cushion or chair. It is about learning to be awake for each moment of your life.

But how do we do that when our daily existence is full of distractions? In the workplace we are constantly responding to noise and disruption in open plan environments and the urgent response needed to emails and mobile phones.

This culture session explores mindfulness as a key strategy for reenergising and refocusing in all areas of your life but especially at work. And there are some major health benefits.

The next session is at Ilam – Puaka James Hight 210 at 2-3pm Thursday 23 November.

These weekly workshops alternating between Ilam and Dovedale Campuses. Their purpose is to encourage teams across UC to meet and learn from each other about shaping a constructive work place culture that values people.

Please forward this blog to anyone you think may be interested. All welcome.

For the dates of further sessions click here.

Bosses Take A Back Seat – Culture Session 2 of 2


“When I am having a sucky day, this [culture] session reaffirms why I like working here”

This culture conversation looks at empowerment through self- directed teams. It is made up of 2 x 1 hour sessions. Session 2 of 2 sets out to apply this approach in our teams – with a special focus on visual graphic systems for communication. Does engagement beat technology?

The next Session 2 of 2 is at Ilam – Puaka-James Hight 210 at 2pm Thursday 26 October.

Email alan.palmer@canterbury.ac.nz to book your place. Booking not essential but helpful in planning materials/handouts etc. Also indicate if you wish to be on the outlook invitation for all sessions. That’s the best way to find out about what’s coming up.

Visual Management Boards provide a focal point for  self-directed teams to share their purpose, their direction, their ideas, their to-do list and their results. Team members gain skills along the way e.g use of the ideas evaluation matrix encourages collaboration. You’ll get to view examples in the workshop.

Don’t be shy! If you would like to share examples of your visual management display boards please email photos to Alan by 5pm Wednesday 25 October.

This workshop is part of a series of culture conversations alternating between Ilam and Dovedale Campuses. Join us in an informal workshop environment and share your knowledge and experiences from your team with a wider group. The workshop will be facilitated by Alan Palmer. The purpose of these workshops is to encourage teams across Learning Resources to meet and learn from each other about shaping a constructive work place culture that values people.

He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
Māori proverb

For the dates of further sessions click here>

Please forward this blog to anyone you think may be interested.